One of the best Mayo club championships in a long time
TYNAN'S TAKE: COLUMN BY STUART TYNAN
SO the curtain has been drawn on the club championships and it has certainly been one to remember.
Certainly at senior level, where the duo of Castlebar Mitchels and Ballintubber have hoovered up the majority of the Moclair Cups between them over the past decade, they were plenty of twists, turns, shocks and spills over the the past six weeks. But the rise of north Mayo as a powerhouse once again was cemented as Knockmore overcame favourites Breaffy to win their first senior title since 1997.
Ray Dempsey, who was part of Knockmore's last triumph as a player 23 years ago, has been building his young side very nicely and last year's win in the Mayo Senior League certainly gave them a lot of confidence coming into this year's championship.
His young guns have certainly come of age and the likes of Peter Naughton, Pearse Ruttledge and Aiden Orme, as well as outstanding performances from the experienced Kieran Langan and Kevin McLoughlin, have made this Knockmore side worthy champions and several of their young crop have the capabilities of becoming mainstays for the Mayo senior side in the years to come.
For Breaffy, it must be case of what must they do to get over the line. They have now lost four finals in eight years (an all too familiar feeling for us all watching Mayo over the past decade). The early goal scored by Knockmore's Darren McHale would prove critical and Breaffy will be left to rue that they didn't make the most of their brief man advantage following Aiden Orme's black card late in the first half.
Breaffy will come back again. Despite the defeats, you don't make four finals without having a bit of resilience about you. But it is all about the Saffron and Blue, and with Ballina Stephenites also there or thereabouts over the past few years, the power shift of Mayo club football may just be going back north.
MAYO IFC AND JFC FINALS
BEFORE the main event on Sunday, the intermediate and junior finals were down for decision and it was a huge day for both Balla and Kilmaine.
Kilmaine's return to intermediate has been a long time coming. They were simply too good for junior level. But a pair of finals defeats in the past few years delayed what seemed like the inevitable and despite a brilliant performance from Kilmeena (who will be strong favourites to make the jump from junior next year), Kilmaine held them off for a superb victory in what was an outstanding final. It will come as no surprise to any should they make another jump in the next year or two to senior level.
As for Balla, what a story. Only junior A champions back in 2018, this team were not seen as one of the obvious contenders going into this year's competition. But any questions that have been asked of this Balla team since the defeat to Hollymount/Carramore in the group stages have been answered emphatically.
It will not be a final that will live long in the memory for any neutrals watching, but finals are there to be won, end of. Kiltimagh will only have themselves to blame for their failure to punish Balla in the third quarter and Balla saw them off with relative ease in the end for a famous win.
How they get on in senior level next year will be fascinating to see.
*You can read Stuart's full column every Tuesday in our print edition.